Afridi terms arrest of Indian fan ´shameful´

KARACHI, DEC 21 – Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi said Wednesday the arrest of an Indian student for wearing a shirt bearing his name was “shameful”, but would not deter the subcontinent´s cricket-mad fans from supporting rival players.

Ripon Chowdhury, 21, was arrested on Sunday in Hailakandi, a small town in the northeastern state of Assam, while watching a local cricket tournament after his shirt angered a Hindu nationalist group.

“A complaint was lodged against him by a local right-wing outfit. We arrested him based on the complaint but gave him bail immediately,”

He said fans in both India and Pakistan put the sport above the often-fraught relations between their countries and admired each others´ players.

“You cannot stop fans from supporting a player by arresting them,” he said. “Sports and politics should be kept apart and such incidents go against the principles of sportsmanship.”

Afridi himself landed in hot water with home fans for saying he got “more love” in India than he did in Pakistan, ahead of a crucial clash in the World Twenty20 in March.

In January a Pakistani fan was arrested for waving the flag of India after his idol Virat Kohli struck a match-winning knock against Australia.

Umar Daraz, 22, was charged with sedition and faced up to a decade in prison, but was later quietly released by officials in the central town of Okara.